Linux

I’d already concluded that desktop Linux sucks, but I’m now giving up on my PVR too, because Linux hardware support sucks too. I guess the old guard device driver hackers have moved on…

I spent too much of a day (Sunday) trying to get a supported 802.11n adapter working; after much research on the various things that don’t actually fall into the definition of “supported”, I settled on a configuration that should have worked (and did work, if I turned security off). the last problem was, of all things, that the driver didn’t handle spaces in my WPA passphrase.

At least the driver had its own way of configuring security, because I couldn’t get wpa-supplicant to work at all no matter which way I configured it!

On Tuesday night the same machine dropped off the net for no diagnosable reason, after I unplugged the UPS (I wanted to test that the alarm was silenced, since this PVR is now in the bedroom). Nothing would fix it; not config changes or even a power-cycle. Then suddenly it started connecting again while I was looking for hints on the Internet.

Last fall I upgraded two machines, and Samba authentication stopped working. When these machines reboot, some services don’t start (again, for no diagnosable reason). When I upgraded the laptop, my extremely common graphics stopped working due to a known, but still unfixed driver bug. And on and on.

I give up. I will still run my Linux servers (although if samba stays broken I’m going to be increasingly frustrated), but I’m going to check out GBPVR, an open source PVR that runs on Windows. If it works for me, then the Linux PVR is going to be history. For now I’m using the HD-PVR from Rogers; while it has one of the crappiest UIs I’ve encountered, and Rogers has disabled the “only record new episodes” function, at least it works….

posted at 6:50 pm on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 in Rants | Comments Off on Linux

hateful?

In my random walk through the Internet this morning, I visited several news articles with comments sections.

Why are people so hateful, so judgmental, so prejudiced (in the classic sense, i.e. making up their minds without facts)? People write that they’ll hate a (good) TV show after reading an interview with one of the actors. People heaping vitriol on a woman they’ve never met, and don’t know anything about. It’s ugly. YouTube is awful for this, although at least people are talking about that.

Maybe most people are like me, and simply move on when the conversation degenerates (which it usually does), and so I’m only seeing the vocal minority…

posted at 8:50 am on Tuesday, June 02, 2009 in Rants | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    The problem with a vocal minority like the peanut gallery on youtube, is that they account for most of the comments you see there, so in a sense, it is not a minority of comments. Its so bad, I don’t usually read comments on youtube at all.

Kid walks to soccer, neighbors call the cops

A Mom Lets Her Son Walk to Soccer…And The Police Come Calling

From the Free Range Kids blog, the story of Lori from a small town in Mississippi, who sent her 10-year-old on foot to soccer practice, only to have him picked up by the cops, who reported “hundreds” of 911 calls by curtain-twitchers who were horrified at the thought of a 10-year-old walking a third of a mile to a local school. The cops told her she could be charged with child endangerment After she complained to the cops, the local police chief called her to apologize and to reassure her that she lived in a safe neighborhood. The moral of the story: stand your ground when crazy people tell you that your kid needs to be swaddled in bubblewrap until she’s 22.

From the article:

My 10-year-old son wanted the chance to walk from our house to soccer practice behind an elementary school about 1/3 mile from our house. He had walked in our neighborhood a number of times with the family and we have driven the route to practice who knows how many times. It was broad daylight – 5:00 pm. I had to be at the field myself 15 minutes after practice started, so I gave him my cell phone and told him I would be there to check that he made it and sent him off. He got 3 blocks and a police car intercepted him. The police came to my house — after I had left — and spoke with my younger children who were home with Grandma. They then found me at the soccer field and proceeded to tell me how I could be charged with child endangerment. They said they had gotten “hundreds” of calls to 911 about him walking. Now, I know bad things can happen and I wasn’t flippant about letting him go and not checking up, but come on. I live in a small town in Mississippi. To be perfectly honest, I’m much more concerned about letting him attend a birthday party sleepover next Friday, but I’m guessing the police wouldn’t be at my house if I chose to let him go which I probably won’t.

via Boing Boing

posted at 2:35 pm on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 in Current Events, Links, Rants | Comments Off on Kid walks to soccer, neighbors call the cops

embarrassment

Some days I’m embarrassed to be a software developer.

My employer just switched brokerage firms, so I have to go to the new firm’s website to register my account. So far:

- The registration page doesn’t allow punctuation in my userID, so I can’t use my e-mail address. I have to choose yet another impossible-to-remember, minimum 8-character userID. At least they have a “remember my userid” checkbox on the login page.
- There is a “Password Hint” feature for lost passwords. There are only four questions. The answer cannot contain spaces (making “who is your favorite teacher” hard to answer). The hint response is not displayed, so you can’t see what you’ve typed, but you only enter it once, so you can’t be sure it is correct.
- I entered my phone number in +1.416.555.1212 format (the ITU/ISO international standard for such things). It was re-written as 14165551212; I wonder what their employees will do with that if they ever try to call me? I’m actually kind of surprised it accepted an 11-digit number at all, come to think of it!

They have a “contact us” form:

- The form requires a company name. Without punctuation. My employer’s name is “Hewlett-Packard”. See the problem? :-)
- The form requires a phone number, but this time it must be ###-###-####. No exceptions. What if I have a problem when I’m on a business trip to Ireland?
- The message body cannot contain newline characters, making it hard to write intelligent messages to customer service…

I’m terrified to find out what’s going to happen once I try to trade my shares.

All of these issues are standard, common website usability issues, the ones that we all end up dealing with every day. UI experts have been ranting about stuff like this for at least a decade, but as far as I can tell, nobody is listening. It’s very depressing…

posted at 12:17 pm on Monday, December 15, 2008 in Programming, Rants | Comments Off on embarrassment

rogers update

I appear to be back online.

  • A technician came by my house on Thursday, spent less than 30 seconds “testing” my line, and then left without telling me anything about the neighbourhood-wide problem.
  • A call center tech was able to tell me on Friday that they had isolated a “noise problem” in the area.
  • A technician visiting the a neighbour was able to tell me that there was a signal problem in our six-house area, but he also didn’t know anything about the week-long, ongoing neighbourhood-wide problem.
  • We had two analog cable outages on Friday, (recorded by my PVR, of course :) Since then my Internet connection has been rock-solid (other than my router locking up on Saturday night :).

I’d like to believe that it is unusual to have so many people working on the same problem and yet not talking to each other, but as I work for a large software company, I’m aware that this is the norm for most large organizations… *sigh.

posted at 11:05 am on Monday, November 24, 2008 in Personal, Rants | Comments Off on rogers update

firefox 3 back button

The UI controls for Forward/Back in the new Firefox are strange. For a long time I believed that you couldn’t skip back multiple pages, something that I found extremely annoying! This finally bothered me enough that I performed a Google search, and found Firefox 3 – Back Button UI Annoyance which explains that that little arrow next to the Forward button is actually a history menu for both Forward and Back!

counter-intuitive, indeed…

posted at 5:58 pm on Saturday, November 22, 2008 in Rants | Comments Off on firefox 3 back button

I hate insurance companies

I carry insurance on my vehicles because of liability issues, because I want protection from catastrophic damage, and because I’m legally required to (in that order :-).

Two weeks ago my truck was hit from behind by a taxi while I was stopped at a pedestrian crossing. The guy hit me at an angle, so the right front corner of his car hit the left-center of the rear bumper. My truck doesn’t have any wishy-washy fiberglass or Styrofoam; it has a steel bumper, welded to the frame, with a plastic wrap-around cover.

His damage was a badly mangled right front bumper; he probably also cracked his headlight cover. My damage was a couple of new scuff-marks and a small, cosmetic fold in the plastic. I won that argument :).

Unfortunately, the taxi driver took off before giving me his drivers license and before taking any of my info. We had his insurance information, but that’s for the owner of the taxi, not the driver. And the insurance binder he showed us was expired. There was enough suspect about the whole incident that I decided to report the issue to my insurance company and the police, just to cover my butt (see “liability” above).

I took the truck to both the insurance company’s repair shop and my dealership, because I wanted to make sure there was no structural damage; it’s always possible that he cracked a weld on the bumper, for example. Both reported that there is no damage to the car, other than the plastic bumper cover and a $23 reflector. The cover cannot be repaired; it must be replaced, which they estimate at $932. I tow a trailer during the summer; once or twice a year I back into the trailer hitch, adding to the dings and scuffs in this plastic cover, so as far as I’m concerned, there’s absolutely no point in wasting everyone’s time (and money!) replacing the cover. It’s cosmetic damage, and even counts as “normal wear and tear” under my lease (I asked).

One reason I pay a god-awful amount of money for insurance is that car repairs are so expensive these days. Gone are the days of buffing out dings and dents in steel panels; now it’s all plastic composites, fibreglass, and large, wrap-around panels. So, thinks I, why contribute to this sad state of affairs by performing a useless $900 repair?

My insurance company has just informed me that if I don’t do the repair, they’ll drop my coverage. They say that if I have another accident, they can’t distinguish new and pre-existing damage. This despite the number of photographs taken by at least five different people in the process, and the damage report and estimate from the cops and from the repair shop.

All this for an accident I normally wouldn’t have bothered reporting… *sigh.

posted at 11:52 am on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 in Personal, Rants | Comments (5)
  1. Jeff K says:

    A pickup truck’s tire flew off on the 400 and landed on the 407 immediately in front of me one fine morning this past August. It made a horrific noise at 100km/h hitting my roof, coming, by my calculations, within 3 milliseconds of entering the cabin instead of just wrecking the roof. The cop said it was a non-reportable (i.e. <$900), but I insisted it be reported, and in the end, the insurance company was out $5,000. Despite this, I got the distinct impression by what was said that dropping $5k on a near-fatal was nothing to the insurance company and I was treated rather well.

    Actually, the dump-truck behind drove over the wheel after it hit me and then 4 lanes of traffic created a huge cloud of blue smoke behind me as they all came to emergency stops while the wheel rolled across all lanes in front of them. Lucky dogs, they had more than 250 milliseconds to deal with the thing. I suppose the insurers did get off easy on that one.

    See, aren’t you glad? I stayed alive by being cool for 250 milliseconds and doing the “right” thing, and the insurance companies saved millions in compensation, so between us, they’re way ahead.

    Hm, but is ducking your head to be right up against the steering wheel airbag the “right” thing? I guess we’ll never know.

  2. Ron says:

    Wow, now that is one twisted insurance company. Unless there is something different about Canada in this regard I don’t expect you can freely change insurance, right? And the new insurance company doesn’t come out and do a detailed inspection on your car, right? So they wouldn’t know about pre-existing damage …

    Last year we had a storm and I started a claim with the insurance company because I didn’t know how bad the damage would be and didn’t want to risk waiting a few weeks until I knew for sure. But while I was talking to them I asked if I could tell them to “forget the whole thing” later and they said no problem canceling a claim. Which is what I ended up doing.

  3. chk says:

    To prevent fraud, all of the insurance companies up here share information with each other, including claims histories, so I’m SOL on that account. Also, I’m with an insurance company that offers HP employees a 20% group discount, so I’m locked in, at least for a few more months! :)

  4. chk says:

    Jeff, I’m glad you’re visiting here again! You always have the best stories to share!

  5. jim says:

    In WA state insurance companies share information. When I started my new insurance with Farmers’, my agent Michelle L. found a couple of claims showing $0 paid. It was from me calling and asking about damages and coverage. To prevent problems, she had to come out and take pictures of my truck to show it was in good condition.

linux sux

OK, I exaggerate. Linux as a server is an awesome tool. Linux on the desktop sucks like a Hoover.

I decided to try Ubuntu 8.04 on a desktop machine. My primary goal was to have a MythTV client, so I could watch recorded TV when the kids had taken over the main television (for the Wii, of course! :). I’ve been a casual Linux user since kernel version 0.91, and a regular user since RedHat 5.0 shipped. I used Sun and SGI desktops, NCD X-Terminals, and even early Desktop Linux for 10 years before I started using Windows. Desktop Linux has come a long way since then, so I figured it was worth a try; I was experienced enough to work around any problems that came up.

Browsing and email are OK, because Firefox and Thunderbird are available. The official mailer, Evolution, is utter dreck, of course, and everything suffers the standard open-source problem; crappy UI, and feature-incomplete. It seems that when a developer encounters a program that doesn’t work in their ideal way, the reaction is not to improve the program, as open-source supporters would have you believe. Instead, the reaction is to think “Wow, that sucks! I can do better from scratch!”. And so we have, for example, well over a dozen MP3 players that all suck in different ways! (Although, thanks to the underlying crappy audio support, they all suffer the problem that changing the volume lags by 2-3 seconds… *sigh).

I tried a compromise position for a while; I installed VirtualBox, a “free” VM solution from Sun Microsystems that allows one to integrate the host and guest desktops almost seamlessly, so that I could run my favourite Windows apps alongside the Linux stuff. But even that doesn’t work as well, and so I think I’m going to surrender and go back to Windows on the desktop.

I could go on, but instead I’ll link to a couple of sites and essays that cemented it all for me. There are many themes, but most boil down to the same problem: Linux developers act like they’re smarter than Linux users. If there’s one thing that 13 years of commercial software development has taught me, it’s that you ignore your customers/users at your own peril. I don’t think the open-source community is ever going to learn that lesson.

posted at 9:13 am on Wednesday, October 01, 2008 in Personal, Programming, Rants | Comments (4)
  1. Richard Chapman says:

    You know, during the American Revolutionary War, columns of British infantry were often harassed by Colonial Militia using tactics that would be later known as Guerrilla warfare. It pissed the Brits off to no end. Battles were supposed to be neat and tidy. Everybody lined up and traded volleys until enough people were dead. We all know what battle tactics are not in use today.

    Ok, so what does this have to do with Linux development? You say you’ve had 10 years in commercial development but you didn’t say if it was Open Source development or not. A community effort will not come up with anything that looks and works like Vista. That’s not a bad thing. Think of the proprietary development model like the battle field tactics used during the Revolutionary War. Yeah, Open Source is messy as hell. I’m not a developer but I can think of at least two reasons why that is. It’s relatively new, compared to proprietary methods (I know a basic Open Source model was in place before the proprietary influences took over. Software was developed and traded freely before it was discovered to be a “gold mine” by the corporations.) Second, the Open Source model reignited, established itself and has begun to flourish in a proprietary “pond”. Imagine that, born and bred in a completely hostile environment. The Open Source model you see today is not the one you would see if it was as prominent as the proprietary one.

    What I don’t understand is that you should know this. Having as much experience as you do with Linux, you would have canned it a long time ago if you had issues with a little GUI quirkiness. There weren’t “well over a dozen MP3” players when you first started using Linux. They accumulated while you using it. Did it just hit you one day that there were “too many”? I say, if someone wants to create their own MP3 player or even a distro for that matter, go ahead, let Darwin sort them out. For me, a quirky GUI is just a nice little reminder that I’m not using a Microsoft product.

  2. chk says:

    I think you completely missed all of my points, but that’s ok; the other blogs I linked to are full of similar behaviour.

    I’ve been running Linux as a server for over a decade. I gave up on Linux on the desktop nine years ago. I decided to try it again, and discovered that other than a few new bells and whistles, nothing has changed. Developers can’t even get basic functionality right, never mind the interesting stuff that really makes a program useful.

    My example about MP3 players was not that there were so many, but that they all suck. Nobody seems to want to collaborate to make one or two better. It’s not just the MP3 players.

    A quirky GUI just gets in my way when I have real work to do. I don’t want to be fighting with my computers all the time (And yes, for the record, both Apple and MSFT have problems in this area too).

    I’ll continue to run linux on my servers (5 personal, dozens at the office), but I’ll not be using it on a desktop. More importantly, I won’t be recommending it to my family and friends, either.

  3. Richard Chapman says:

    No, after reading your comment I believe I didn’t miss your point. I’m not saying there is something wrong with you for not liking desktop Linux. It just seems a little odd. If you’ve been working with Linux servers for the past 9 years you must be quite at home with the command line. Don’t use the desktop, it’s optional. I think it’s nuts but some people do it. I don’t know what distro you tried but desktop Linux has improved a lot in just the 3.5 years I’ve been using it. My needs aren’t great but it does everything I need and more without getting in my face. The maintenance is nonexistent compared to XP. Vista? From what little I’ve seen of it my computer would be smashed to pieces in a matter of hours if I had to use it. That friggin’ OS has an attitude and I don’t like it at all.

    I use PCLinuxOS and there isn’t any piece of codec crap it can’t handle. If you are happy with XP or Vista or whatever you use then there is no reason to switch. If you’re just investigating the “hype” then that’s fine too. Just understand that there isn’t any Linux hype machine, it’s just people’s experiences. Nobody said Linux was the Second Coming. They are just happy to finally get their work done without being pestered by their computer.

  4. Reid says:

    Yep it does.

    Now why would you go to Windows? There’s always Mac.

    Games?

I hate people

Sometime during the night, someone sneaked into our campsite and stole all of our firewood. The joke was on them; they got the crap that wouldn’t light! Apparently they also hit our neighbours and stole their folding chairs, and a few other things. I had stowed our chairs under the trailer so they would stay dry in the morning dew, and I guess they didn’t see them.

During the day on Saturday, two kids walked into the middle of the roped-off “kite fliers only” area, picked up two of our kites, and were heading off the field with them. The kites were the dollar-store variety that were part of the kite decorating workshop at the festival, and I don’t really care about losing them. However, they were attached to two of my halos of real kite line, since we don’t allow mono-filament near the big kites. The worst part was that their mother was watching them STEAL OUR KITES without saying a word, until I challenged the kids. At that point, the kids put the kites back down on the ground and the three of them left, with mom scowling and harrumphing at me the whole way.

There are many individuals that I adore, but some days I hate people

posted at 12:17 pm on Monday, September 22, 2008 in Personal, Rants | Comments (2)
  1. Anita Kilgour says:

    Yah. I grok.

    Stupidity with theatre neighbours. Oy.

  2. RG says:

    I wish I could say “unbelievable” but I can’t. The worst is the mom and the kids. I see the equivalent so often and wonder what the heck he/she/they think they’re teaching their kids? The parents will apparently care enough to take the kids places but then…

shooting themselves in the foot

Toronto has a problem with the Asian Longhorned Beetle and so the transport of wood, and in particular firewood, is restricted. Some areas of Toronto, including the protected conservation areas, are quarantine zones.

Because the Rouge Valley is protected, the Glen Rouge Campground, owned and operated by the City of Toronto, has a rule that firewood must be purchased from the park; you are not allowed to bring your own.

Unfortunately, the wood the sell is disgusting. We bought the best bag we could find in their woodlot, and it was still so wet that my axe and knife were both covered in water droplets (the knife after I tried shaving a couple of pieces to see if that would start a fire). After several attempts, including resorting to lighter fluid (something I’ve never had to do in 32 years of lighting fires!), we gave up. The only thing we could get to burn was the dry kindling we borrowed.

We borrowed the lighter fluid from our neighbours, who said that they’ve been coming to the campground all summer, and the wood is so bad that they now simply smuggle their own into the park. In other words, by selling crappy wood, the park is actually encouraging people to break the quarantine!

Fortunately I had taken our spare laptop to the party, and the girls accepted the fact that the fire wasn’t going to happen because they could watch DVDs instead. They weren’t entirely happy, mind you…

I’m going to go back tomorrow and demand a refund from the park. It’s only eight bucks, but it’s the principle…

posted at 9:06 pm on Saturday, September 20, 2008 in Personal, Rants | Comments Off on shooting themselves in the foot

Disposable Economy

Welcome to the disposable economy.

My daughter accidentally dropped my Canon SD200 camera and broke the flash. (The rest of the camera works just fine). So I took it to Canon Canada’s customer service centre, asking for a repair estimate. They just called; $241.50 (presumably $210 + taxes). The camera new is $345 ($300 + tax)! Even if they’re replacing the entire electronics board, there’s still a lens, battery, SD card…

At this point I’m thinking that I’ll buy a new one, and give the (mostly) working one to the kids to play with.

Sheesh!

Update: I called Canon this morning, and asked why they wanted so much money. He explained that because I didn’t bring a receipt for the camera, they charged me a general flat rate fee for the repair. I explained that the reason I didn’t bring a receipt was that this is not a warranty repair, and reminded him that Canon should know what the retail prices of their products are :-). Anyway, long story short, he immediately requoted the repair at $70 + tax, much more reasonable…

posted at 12:40 pm on Saturday, September 10, 2005 in Rants | Comments (2)
  1. Jeff K says:

    Don’t repair it. Repairs have a probability of success p p, 0..1 A broken camera costs $x, average to repair. The true cost of fixing the camera is thus $x * sum(1+(1-p)+(1-(1-p)*p)+ …) which with .5 for p (my experience in these matters) and $240 for $x is 240 * (1+.5+.25+.125 …) = $480. $480 > $345. [There is some variance from how good of a screamer you are when trying to convince them the 2nd and subsequent repairs are related to the first]

  2. Harald says:

    At that price, I’m certainly not planning on repairing it! $100 maybe; $240? Never!

Slamming comes to Canada

(Ok, it’s been around for a long time. Sue me. :)

So after having received yet another telemarketing call about switching my local service away from Bell, I called Bell and asked if there were any checks and balances in place. You know, to prevent fraud. The kind of fraud the US has been dealing with for 25 years.

Short answer: no. They simply trust the other guy, and let them take your service away from Bell. There’s a CRTC mandate that the new company formally obtain consent, but a) that can be in several different easy-to-forge formats, and b) apparently Bell doesn’t bother verifying consent except in disputes.

I’m not sure who the imbeciles are here (I suspect the CRTC, but it could be Bell Canada), but there’s one somewhere.

You’d think we’d at least attempt to learn from the mistakes of our neighbours to the south with all of these attempts at deregulation, but no. That would require that intelligence trump greed.

I’m appalled…

posted at 2:32 pm on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 in Rants, Security | Comments Off on Slamming comes to Canada

Talk to Strangers!

I think “Don’t talk to strangers” is stupid advice.

So does Bruce Schneier .

And I bet Brennan Hawkins and his father do now…

posted at 4:32 pm on Friday, June 24, 2005 in Links, Rants | Comments (1)
  1. Darren Campbell says:

    Success in adult life coincides with talking to strangers… You have to get to know lots of the right people to make anything happen!

bad drivers

I despise people who shove in front of me, cutting me off, when I’m already too close to the guy in front and there’s at least 500m of open road behind me.

I must have a sign on my car that tells people to do this or something…

posted at 11:48 am on Sunday, June 19, 2005 in Personal, Rants | Comments Off on bad drivers

Fox and SF

That’s it; I refuse to watch anything on FOX anymore. They badly mishandled Firefly and then cancelled it. now they’ve cancelled Point Pleasant.

I have to wonder: Why are they ordering these shows to begin with? Are they grasping at straws for another ‘hit’ like Buffy? Are they just looking to tease SF fans so that they’ll all go by the (profitable) DVD box set after cancellations? Or maybe they’ve just got it in for Joss Whedon and Marti Noxon :-)

Anyway, I don’t get it, and I’m not going to play anymore…

posted at 8:56 am on Friday, April 08, 2005 in Rants | Comments Off on Fox and SF

Toronto Star

A couple of weeks after we talked to the Toronto Star and said “Please, please, stop sending us your free newspaper, because we’re just throwing them into the recycle bin” they upped the frequency from just the weekend to seven days a week!!!

I’m really tired of throwing out massive amounts of newspaper. It’s bad enough that the Mirror is delivered three (four?) times a week, but now I’m getting the Star too! aaaah!

(I already have a box full of newspaper in the basement for arts & craft work, so that solution is out…)

(grumble)

posted at 4:01 pm on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 in Rants | Comments (2)
  1. Nita says:

    You do know you can toss that paper into your composter, right?

    I mean, if you’re going to have to deal with their crap to begin with..

  2. Seonaid says:

    Hey! Maybe we need a HUGE papier mache art weekend?

they’re insane

  • Baseball, steroids, and the U.S. Congress – where the heck did that one come from?
  • Terri Schiavo – isn’t it atually illegal for the US government to make laws that apply to a single individual?
posted at 12:59 am on Monday, March 21, 2005 in Current Events, Rants | Comments Off on they’re insane

antibiotics

There’s a news story today about how antibiotic resistant bugs are on the rise again. Ah, but this time doctors are blaming patients; it seems we’re “demanding” antibiotics for all of our ailments.

Here’s the kicker: antibiotics are prescription drugs (up here in Canada). If you don’t think the patient needs them, don’t prescribe them! Passing the buck to patients is just plain irresponsible.

posted at 12:05 am on Friday, February 18, 2005 in Current Events, Rants | Comments Off on antibiotics

spam

At the rate that i’m blacklisting spammers, I’m going to end up blocking the entire Internet… *sigh.

GO AWAY! My statistics pages (the only place you’ll see referers) are password protected! Google can’t see them! You won’t get any pagerank from me!

(pant pant pant…)

posted at 4:11 pm on Sunday, February 13, 2005 in Rants, Site News | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    Poking around wikipedia I see a long list of spam domain black lists. Maybe you should see if you can import any of them verbatim.

too much crap

Today I’m feeling like throwing in the towel on this web server business: there’s just too much crap to deal with.

A friend’s server was broken into and defaced last week by a script kiddy. I’ve been double-checking my box over the last few days, and I’m astonished at the amount of crap flowing in from the Internet. As a security professional I knew it was bad, but I was fooling myself; I didn’t know it was this bad!!!

I monitor the site regularly, mainly to ensure that we’re not abusing bandwidth that is generously donated, but also to make sure everything is working, and to watch for obviously suspicious activity. In the last week a major portion of the traffic to this server has been:

  • referrer spam (which doesn’t do anything for the spammer, since I don’t display referrers anywhere; it only abuses my bandwidth). About 15% of my bandwidth for the last month has been referrer spam; they seem to breed faster than I can block them out!
  • people trying comment spam on weblogs with no comments (and no comment script!). This includes attempts to invoke old security holes in Movable Type.
  • people probing for security defects in software that I don’t even have installed.
  • people probing for security defects in software that I do have installed (fortunately that was password protected, so they didn’t get in :).
  • probes for network sockets (both for software with vulnerabilities, and for software installed by hackers). This box is heavily firewalled (in both directions; blocking outbound traffic has saved my bacon more than once!), but I still see the logs.
  • password guessing attempts (mainly via SSH, which has been locked down to a small number of IP addresses for months now, since the last major SSH vulnerability).

The promise of Open Source software was that more eyes staring at code would lead to fewer defects. I’m seeing the opposite; it seems that the rate of vulnerability annoucements, and resulting patches, is increasing. Just last week I just upgraded three packages here as a direct result of security announcements (and, as mentioned above, caught someone probing for one of them…)

The Internet has become the cesspool predicted in several recent science fiction novels (notably Peter Watt’s Behemoth, which specifically mentions automated virus / hacking activity). After three days of looking two closely at my logs I feel like pulling the plug. If it were just me using the server, I probably would…

posted at 10:57 am on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 in Personal, Rants, Security, Site News | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    The Internet has always been a pigsty… and the pigs love it!

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